Make Ahead Carnitas

Tender and crispy braised pork that can be used as a meat filling for just about anything.

1500 g / 3 lb batch

Time: 1 hr 45 mins

Ethan ChlebowskiBy Ethan Chlebowski

Everyone should know how to make carnitas, specifically, this make-ahead version just makes sense for the home cook.

Ethan Chlebowski

Ethan Chlebowski



  • Carnitas

    • pork shoulder
      , boneless
      1500 g2-3 lbs
    • salt
      15 g1% by weight
    • water
      as needed


Step 1: Prep the meat

Cut the meat into small cubes (measuring roughly 1 inch or 3 cm wide). Then, season the meat evenly with salt.

  • If you want to be exact: set a pot or bowl over a scale, add the pork chunks, and note their weight down. Add 1% salt based on the weight of the pork (e.g. 1500 g pork = 15 grams of salt).

Once the meat is salted properly, add it to a braising pot.

Step 2: Cover with water & bring to a simmer

Fill the pot with water to just barely cover the pork pieces. Set the pot on medium-high heat and bring the water to a , then lower the heat to medium-low so that the pot is just

Step 3: Braise until tender

Let the pork continue uncovered while stirring occasionally. Continue the meat this way until the liquid has , which usually takes at least an hour.

Once the water has completely , check the texture of the pork:

  • If the meat is easily pulled apart with a fork, it’s done.
  • If the meat is still tough and hasn’t gone tender, it needs more braising time. Add a bit more water at a time and continue until it reaches a tender texture.

Once the pork is done, there will be a layer of fat that has rendered out in the pot. Use this to crisp the pork carnitas in the next step:

Step 4: Shred & crisp the carnitas

You now have a decision to make, depending on when you’ll be enjoying the carnitas:

If serving immediately: Continue cooking the chunks of pork right in the pot with the rendered fat until they have lightly and gotten crisp on all sides.

  • Then, remove from the pot and chop or bash/shred into pieces and serve with tacos, salsa, etc.

If saving for later: Remove the pork from the pot. Reserve any rendered fat. Shred the warm pork chunks with your hands or forks.

  • Alternatively, add a handful of pork chunks at a time to a mortar and pestle and bash to create finder shreds of pork.

Store the carnitas in a container in the fridge. When ready to serve them, them with the reserved fat until and crispy. See the FAQ section of this recipe for serving ideas.



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